E3 2014: Sony Highlights ‘Destiny,’ ‘LittleBigPlanet 3,’ and Original Programming

By June 10, 2014
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After Microsoft’s pretty solid showing at their E3 media briefing yesterday morning, the next console publisher on deck to show gamers what they have coming were the reigning sales champions of the eighth generation console market: Sony. Since the PlayStation 4 launched last November, the PS4 has become quite a powerhouse, only recently coming up from supply shortages, and boasting worldwide sales totals of over 7 million consoles. Unlike Microsoft’s situation last year at E3, Sony actually had pressure to live up to their presentation last year, since many people perceived that Sony “dropped the mic” on Microsoft when it made a few gentle but effective jabs at Microsoft and their shortcomings in the messaging department about the Xbox One. For 2014, Sony had to live up to and maintain their own reputation for the PlayStation 4 as the “true gamer’s” console.

While the strengths of Microsoft’s presentation focused on their exclusive titles and independent development program, Sony instead took a bit of a different tack: emphasizing that the plethora of multi-platform titles arriving to both the PS4 and Xbox One will “look better on PlayStation.” Instead of boasting a lot of PlayStation exclusive full titles, they also emphasized that many multi-platform games would either arrive on PlayStation first, or contain exclusive content to the platform, even if the actual game is available on other platforms.

Perhaps the biggest focus in Sony’s briefing at E3 focused on Destiny, developed by Bungie, the creators of the Halo franchise. Although not releasing until September, Destiny has managed to gain a lot of pre-release buzz as an in-depth, always-online sci-fi RPG/first-person shooter experience. Destiny will be arriving on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 9th, but Sony is stacking a lot of its cards with Destiny, as they’ll be launching a PS4 Destiny bundle. The bundle will include a copy of the game, one month of PlayStation Plus service, and an exclusive white model of the PS4 console itself. From this point in the prsentation, Sony president and Group CEO Andrew House stated that all the games showcased in the briefing would be either PS4 exclusive, or “look better” on PS4. They then announced a PS-exclusive intellectual property for a game called The Order: 1886 that looks promising. Taking place in a Victorian-era London, the player uses seemingly anachronistic advanced technology to face “a powerful and ancient foe.”

Another exclusive game hitting the PS4 is LittleBigPlanet 3, a sequel to the highly acclaimed second game in the series that released on the PS3 in early 2011. Sony had a few of the game’s developers give a live demonstration of a few of the new characters and creative platforming levels present in the new outing, and it looks like a blast for anyone that enjoys that kind of game with fun, cartoony visuals. The dimension granted by the PS4 to the graphical presentation was also impressive, given the general art design of the game itself. By this point, Sony president Shuhei Yoshida appeared on stage to introduce a game he described as “very close to [his] heart.” He then showed a trailer for a game called Bloodborne, which is being developed by renowned Japanese developer FromSoftware (Dark Souls) for release in 2015.

A trailer then debuted for another multi-platform game, this time being Far Cry 4. After the customary cinematic trailer, we were then treated to a fantastic gameplay demo featuring cooperative campaign play. A player is dropped into a lavish and lush environment, attempting to take a compound from his enemies. When the fortification looks too intense, he calls a friend in, who joins the game and flies toward him on a mini-copter. The first player jumps on, and…well, see for yourself.

After we got a look at the gameplay footage, it was announced that PlayStation players would be able to invite their PS friends into a game…even if their friends don’t own it. That sounds pretty impressive, and we’ll have to see how the feature works in practice. From here, we were shown a cinematic trailer for Dead Island 2, which will also be a multi-platform release for 2015. Sony then made a rather bizarre announcement for PlayStation players of Diablo III, that DLC themed to the PS3 hit The Last of Us would be hitting that game in the near future. Echoing statements made at EA’s earlier media briefing, PlayStation and PC players are able to apply for beta access to the upcoming Battlefield: Hardline, which takes the franchise out of the worldwide environments of war, and focuses instead on urban warfare and the war on crime.

In a bit of a surprising turn, and what likely got one of the biggest cheers from the audience at the event, was the announcement that Grim Fandango, a neo-noir, dark comedy adventure game released in 1998 by LucasArts, will be getting a PS4 and Vita exclusive release. No date was given, but it’ll likely be either this year or next. Sony then decided to highlight a few independent titles before giving a live-action trailer for a new game called Let It Die, which will be dropping next year. Then, Sony showed us what could be considered the jaw-dropper of their presentation: No Man’s Sky, created by British indie studio Hello Games, is described as a “truly open world” experience, starting players off on different planets in a procedurally generated universe. “If you see a planet hanging on the horizon, it’s a real place, with its own rich ecology of creatures and vegetation. You can get in your ship, fly into space and it’s yours to explore. Not just that, but every star in the sky is just the light of a sun, with its own solar system waiting for you to discover and adventure in.”

At this point, Andrew House took a subtle jab at Microsoft’s at-first compulsory inclusion of the Kinect sensor with the Xbox One, by saying that gamers always “had a choice” if they wanted Sony’s similar peripheral, the PlayStation Camera. From there, he mentioned that Sony’s VR headset, codenamed “Project Morpheus,” would be present on the E3 show floor for attendees to try out in conjunction with the camera. New Sony entertainment CEO Shawn Layden then stepped in to talk about the new social features coming to the PS4 platform, announcing integration with YouTube, free-to-play game offerings, and Sony’s answer to the Nintendo Virtual Console: PlayStation Now, which will stream games from prior PS systems to the PS4 starting in July, and later to PS3 and PS Vita. The Vita itself didn’t warrant a whole lot of mentions during the briefing, except for Layden saying that Sony is still “committed to the platform,” even though sales have been tepid for Sony’s handheld.

He then announced the release of PlayStation TV to the U.S. and Canada this coming Fall. Described as a “new console,” PSTV will pair with a PS4 console, allowing a TV connected to a PS4 to remote link those game to another TV in your home. It’ll also allow “hundreds” of PlayStation titles to be played on PlayStation Now. It’ll be priced at $99 upon release. From there, we were treated at our very first look at the gameplay for Mortal Kombat X, the latest in the seminal fighting series releasing to PS4 and Xbox One in 2015. Then, a bit of the GeekNation Pull List snuck onto the stage at E3 when renowned Marvel Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis announced that a creator-owned series by he and artist Michael Avon Oeming, Powers, would be created as a live-action television series to be released exclusively on the PlayStation Network. The first episode will be available to all PSN members in December, with the whole series being free to PlayStation Plus members.

Sony then showed a new, cinematic trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, showing Solid Snake agonizing over a painful loss. Then, an unsurprising but welcome announcement confirmed that Rockstar Games’ blockbuster title Grand Theft Auto V would be getting a new-gen console and PC release this Fall. When making the announcement, Andrew House took the time to tell prospective PS4 players that both PS3 and Xbox 360 players of GTAV would be able to transfer their characters and progress to the new, PS4 version of the game.

Then, a breathtaking new gameplay video of 2015’s upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight was shown, with gliding gameplay through a fully and beautifully realized Gotham City, culminating in combat and intense Batmobile driving, all fading into a threat from Scarecrow. Andrew House also announced that PS4 players of Arkham Knight would be able to enjoy PS-exclusive “Scarecrow Nightmare Missions,” before ending the Sony event with a first look at Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

All in all, it’s surprising that Sony focused so much of its immense presentation on multi-platform titles instead of blockbuster PS4 exclusives. Ironically enough, last year Microsoft was criticized for focusing too much on TV content over games, and some fans will undoubtedly make the same criticism of Sony in this year’s briefing. Overall, it seemed like PS4 devotees will find a few things to get excited about, but new-gen gamers in general were given a fair amount of releases to get excited about.

There’s only one major console publisher left, and they’ll be having their “digital event” soon. Be sure to check in with GeekNation to see what the House of Mario, Nintendo, will be leading with!

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.